Teachers Pay Teachers?


Writing effective lesson plans is time consuming. Making learning at the high school level fun and engaging for students requires even more. This year I’ve been focusing on student engagement and getting my students more involved in both the English and History courses that I teach.

It’s taken more time than usual, but my results have been phenomenal. Overall, the students this year have bought into their education more so than those of the past. They are motivated to learn when I get out of the lecture rut and put them in charge of discovering ideas on their own.

During the last two weeks my English students have completed reading projects and a Socratic Seminar. I was so pleased with the results of  both. Students blew away the expectations and made me proud. Going to school is so much more fun when my students are happy and looking forward to class.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about opening a shop on Teachers Pay Teachers, a site where I could sell my lesson plans and classroom activities. I’m looking for advice from other teachers out there.

Is it worth it to package and sell lessons that have been successful in my own classroom? 

I’ve had an account with Teachers Pay Teachers for a few years. At this point all I’ve ever done is buy lessons, but I have a few of my own that might be beneficial to others. Any feedback is welcome and will be appreciated.

The Ameri Brit Mom


Teaching: Are We Releasing Too Soon?


“Why are these scores so low? I showed them how to do this!”

Many of us have had reflective conversations with ourselves or colleagues drenched in comments similar to the one above. It’s frustrating to go through a process step-by-step with students only to turn them loose and receive a less than desirable assignment in return.

We reason that there must be something wrong with “this class” or we justify these behaviors saying that, “this group must be lazy.” In reality, it may not be a lack of effort on the students’ end, but rather the lethargy may actually stem from the teacher’s planning.

Gone are the days where the role of the teacher was to spew information while students collected it in tidy notebooks. With the onslaught of technology, our students have been transformed from information collectors in to information seekers. Our world has shaped learning to be far more productive in a problem solving scenario than in a catch-and-release system.

I recently attended a Vertical Alignment session with my district Curriculum Director where we looked at best practices throughout our English classrooms in the district. Being a high school teacher confined to fifty minute periods has produced many obstacles in creating a balance between Reading, Writing, and Language instruction. In a perfect world, I would tackle all three areas of ELA in a single class period, but that’s just not the reality of my classroom. I feel stifled by time restraints and frustrated when I cannot see my students making the progress I anticipate to see. Based on my scores from last year’s standardized tests I have added to my curriculum, but fitting everything in before March seems an impossibility.

As a teacher passionate about my content, I’ve been wounded by my student performance these last few years. Like anyone would, I have started to blame the group of students or blame their previous teachers, but the truth is if I’m trying to point blame I should look no further than my own lesson plans.

I read the article Releasing Responsibility by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey at the PD this week. What stuck out to me the most was the idea of Gradual Release of Responsibility.


(Photo: ASCD)

Thinking back to my college days in my cluttered dorm room I can remembering cracking open my book of Educational Psychology and studying Vygotsky’s theories of cognitive development. It is something that is so ingrained in my brain that I’ve actually forgotten all about it. I know that asking a student to work independently on something before they are ready is a recipe for disaster. I know that in order for students to work alone they must receive a focused lesson, guided instruction, and collaboration first, but when I think back to my frustrations with their performance I feel convicted because somewhere along the line I’ve skipped some steps.

As teachers we feel pressure from all directions, but nothing is worse than the pressure of time. Because of time constraints, I’ve recognized that sometimes I revert back to the old schoolhouse method of standing in front of the class, giving them notes, and then expecting them to complete an assignment or homework without any further practice. That isn’t setting them up for success.

The way to beat this slump is to narrow the content of your class. Find the standards that are pivotal for your course and focus on those and the skills necessary for mastery of those standards. When you have five things you are committed to accomplishing instead of forty you feel less pressure to move quickly allowing for a timeline that eases into the release of responsibility.

Designing lessons and units should be centered around these principles and not the curriculum maps or units of study prescribed by a textbook. (In fact, you may not even need that old textbook at all.)

At the high school level what does a lesson look like from each of these stages of the Gradual Release of Responsibility? In a focused lesson, a teacher may introduce new terms, show a video, distribute a notes page with ideas, read a story, or re-inact the setting or plot of the content being read. Guided instruction involves letting the students see your thinking processes. This means vulnerability in many cases, but students will learn most during this phase if you admit your weaknesses and provide modeling of your use of the skill they are working toward. Collaboration is giving your students a scenario or problem to work through with peers to help them gain experience and confidence in the focus area. Activities for small groups should always be things that they could not do independently. Nothing is more frustrating than to be placed in a group to do something you could have done more efficiently on your own. Design a little stretch or challenge into your collaborative assignments.

Finally, after all three stages have been mastered, then you may begin the independent stage of the instruction. This phase is absolutely necessary and should never be skipped, but it’s important to remember that it isn’t the second stage. Lesson delivery isn’t followed by independent work.

If you are anything like me you may just need a reminder that dates, timelines, and tests shouldn’t dictate your lesson plans. Learning is the goal and should be the instrument to measure your progression through content. At the high school level the middle stages of the model above are often left behind an forgotten. We complain that our students aren’t motivated and they don’t enjoy school, but designing lessons that challenge them in all stages of learning will reignite their passion for your content and their performance on various forms of assessments.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Dressing and Educating: Days 6-10


Day 6: August 22, 2016

My first true Monday of the school year and I caught the struggle bus on the way to school. I forgot just how short a two day weekend feels. I really needed to replenish my lost sleep from last week, but I had a sick child all weekend–so that did not happen.

Adjusting to my new schedule is also exhausting me. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my students and getting back into the routine of going to work, but by midway through the day my energy level tanks. This year 4 of the 6 classes I teach are back-to-back in the morning and I eat lunch with only two periods remaining in the day. The front end of my day is hectic and it takes a lot of willpower to keep from taking a nap instead of eating lunch during my break. I’m still in adjustment mode as I align my body to this new schedule.

For my Monday attire I went for my navy and white Market and Spruce dress from Stitch Fix. I paired this dress with a draping vest and Sperrys. I also liked the way my Premier jewelry brought some much needed brightness to this outfit.


Day 7: August 23, 2016

The theme of the day was data. From the beginning of my first class period until the end of the final bell my day consisted of students taking tests to give me data points and analyzing data from previous school years and standardized tests. Twice today I met with my data teams to interpret numbers and to make plans for moving forward. I felt like every other word out of my mouth all day was a synonym for data.

For an English and History teacher a day of data analysis was akin to a pulsating migraine. In fact, it actually caused a bit of one midway through the day. By the time my lunch period rolled around I found myself craving caffeine. I almost gave in to that desire, but kept myself busy to avoid hopping in my car and driving to the nearby Tim Hortons. I worked through my lunch period (I may have to explain a little soup spill on my data sheets), and I logged over 12,000 steps before I finally made it home.

On a more positive note, I’m beginning to recall student names and faces and some of their personalities are starting to sneak through their scared freshman facade. I shared a few laughs with some classes today and thoroughly enjoyed discussions with my honors students about how they want the class to be taught.

It was school picture day. I have no idea why I stress more over picture day as a teacher than I did back in my day as a pupil, but I do. Last night I laid out several outfits and decided on my chambray top I received from Stitch Fix and a pair of red jeggings. I’m so glad I had my gray lace Toms to get me through a day of running to every corner of my large campus. They were almost as imperative as the term “data” was to my vocabulary today.

Day 8: August 24, 2016

Pre-assessment day!

I spent a majority of my day administering pretests and evaluating those pretests. I used each class period to score the one before and spent just about three quarters of my day reading student essays.

I always find it interesting the knowledge my students bring to my course.

Today I wore LulaRoe leggings, my navy tunic from The Limited, and a pair of silver flats I bought two years ago for my sister’s wedding. It was a comfortable, yet professional look for the day.

Also, I took several photos this morning, but I had to laugh about the one above. Right as the camera took the shot another teacher popped in the room and caught me red handed. I had to explain to him what I’m doing on the blog and I’m pretty sure he left my room contemplating my sanity.

Day 9: August 25, 2016

With pre-assessments Out of the way I’m now free to begin teaching my course content. I introduced new vocabulary today, had students analyze an article in small groups, and had a chance to really observe student interaction. I loved seeing personalities come out for the first time this year as students were given permission to ask questions and to go a little deeper with ideas specific to the courses I teach.

Today, I also enjoyed visiting with some former students during their study halls. It means a lot to me when students from previous years make the time to stop by the freshman building to see me and fill me in on their lives.

Today I wore black skinny dress pants from The Limited, a blue tank top, and a cardigan I purchased this summer in England at Primark. I completed my outfit with my favorite black and white Sperrys.


Day 10: August 26, 2016

My first casual Friday!

You have to love the days when you can dress down at work. Although I love getting all dressed up throughout the week Fridays are always a breath of fresh air as I can create outfits that are more functional for my active teaching style. Everyday I log over 10,000 steps before lunch time. I rarely sit during class periods. I use a lot of energy throughout my day. Because I’m such an active teacher I love to wake up and throw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Most Friday’s I wear shirts that display my school spirit, but today I decided to go for a different look.

As you can see above I wore a Classic T from LulaRoe and my dark denim is from Charlotte Russe’s line and there I go again with my classic Sperrys boat shoe. I dressed the casual look up just a bit with a long beaded necklace and a gold bracelet from Premier.

At the end of my second week I can now say I’ve learned all my student first names, graded at least one assignment per class, and begun teaching content in both of my courses. I’m starting to get into a rhythm for the year and some of the students are beginning to open up just a little bit. I’m excited about the school year and all 170 days that lie ahead.

Thank goodness for the weekend so I can catch up on some sleep and much needed family time.

Here’s a quick recap of my outfits this week. Which is your favorite?:

The Ameri Brit Mom

Five Minute Friday: Expect

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Expect. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:


All that lies between myself and summer vacation is three days. Next Wednesday the students will leave my classroom for the final time. When I think about that moment I’m overcome because it has been a great year, but I am also excited for all that the summer holds for my family.

I’m expecting a long, fun summer full of family activities, travel, and lots of reading.

I’m expecting joy.

I’m expecting rest.

I’m expecting love.

I’m looking forward to a mini-trip to Chicago in nineteen days. Long car rides, sight seeing, and trying new foods are always full of wonderful memories. I expect that trip to be full of them.

I’m excited about spending a month in the summer back at my husband’s home in England. It’s always nice to get away and catch up with our family across the sea.

I’m also ecstatic about not having to grade essays, projects, or late work for a whole three months!

Here’s to summer 2016.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Teaching Writing: Five Things You Need to Survive

Whoever said teaching writing is dull has never been inspired by some of the writing greats like Kelly Gallagher, George Hillocks Jr, and Donalyn Miller. These three people have heavily influenced my take on the teaching of writing. My first two years of teaching I struggled to capture the interest of my students while adhering to state mandated standards, but after studying theories and ideas from these three experts I’ve revamped my program and teaching writing has become an enjoyment. Reading their works have also made me a more confident writing teacher.

Currently, my students are working on an essay entitled, Five Things You Need to Survive in Lynn’s World. This assignment is based on the novel Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis which all regular education ninth grade students are reading at my school. I did a book review of this novel last spring as I prepared the unit. Check it out!

In order for my students to get a handle on what I was asking for in this informative essay I provided them a copy of the humorous essay from the Huffington Post, 10 Essentials for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: A Practical Guide by John Hornor Jacobs. As a small group they read through the article and highlighted language and ideas that stood out to them.

Then, in their groups they used the model essay to develop a plan of their own. They created a T-chart in their writing notebooks emulating some of the same styles used by John Hornor Jacobs, but applying his principles to their assignment. That assignment was to write an informative essay about five things needed to survive in the world of Lynn, the protagonist of Not a Drop to Drink.

This assignment is a fun approach to informative writing sprinkled with a bit of humor. Students are working in small groups to write the essay where each student is responsible for one paragraph or item from the list of necessities for survival. Also, like the model essay students are expected to think outside of the box when choosing their items. They are not allowed to use water, fire, or shelter as an item required for survival.

GoogleDocs is the platform we are using for the assignment as it allows several students to work on the same document at the same time. They are all able to use Chromebooks to work on their individual portion of the whole and they have instant access to editing tools, their peers.

This is the first time I’ve done this assignment and so far I am pleased with the how things are going. The students are engaged because they’ve already fallen in love with the text.They are also performing their own tasks as a member of a team.

This assignment serves as an introduction to informative writing. Plans have been laid for individual informative assignments, however, working in small groups is a stepping stone to writing on their own.

I’m excited to see the final products when the editing process is complete.

Modified copy of IMG_2169

Book Worm or Social Butterfly?

I am currently enrolled in a course on teaching writing and during this course the class is reading the book,  In the Best Interest of Students by Kelly Gallagher. In his book, Kelly discusses some of the strengths and weaknesses of the current Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts.

I’m a big fan of Gallagher and in the past have read his other books, Teaching Adolescent Writers and Write Like This. He talks often about his experiences in the ninth grade English classroom and I sympathize with him on various levels about student apathy, concerns, and achievements.


This week I was doing my reading to prepare for the course when I stumbled upon an idea which really resonated with me.

This is a quote within a quote from the book:

“In his study, ‘In the Minds of Others,’ Keith Oatley, professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, notes that recent research has found that

far from being a means to escape the social world, reading stories can actually improve your social skills by helping you better understand other human beings.” (2011, 1)

So often we hear the term “book worm” to describe someone who has developed an affinity for reading. This misnomer has carried with it a negative connotation. I’ve even heard other teachers use such negative language to describe students who consistently carry books to and from class. Readers can get a bad reputation from the rest of society. They are sometimes labeled antisocial, but the quote above points to the very opposite meaning.

One of my favorite pastimes is to sit at home near the fire place in the living room and read. I’ll even call it romantic when my husband sits beside me on the sofa and reads his own book as well. Because at the end of the day we share what we have read about. The people we have interacted with through reading. The lessons we learned from the stories we experienced. And there is nothing antisocial or negative about it.

People miss out on truly social experiences by choosing not to read. Reading provides us such unique opportunities to be a part of another life or time period that we may never otherwise experience.

I’m not saying every couple needs to be like me and my husband and bond through reading. Rather the point I am trying to make is that reading is not the negative experience that so many people have painted it to be. When I ask students why they are reluctant to read on their own I get responses like, “I would rather play games,” or, “My friends are more fun.” Although they may enjoy gaming and spending time with friends, reading can also be as much fun and engaging as both of those activities.

All of this to say, that just because someone enjoys reading does not mean that they are a book worm. It is indeed possible to read often and be a social butterfly. Reading can add authenticity to your social interactions outside of books and helps to develop the social skills needed for relating to others. By losing yourself in a good book you are setting yourself up for social success and training your mind for intellectual growth.


Oatley, Keith. 2011. “In the Minds of Others.” Scientific American Mind.

Gallagher, Kelly. 2015. In the Best Interest of Students. Stenhouse: Maine.

5 Reasons to Read Ray Bradbury

This week I wrapped up a six week unit on Fahrenheit 451 with my ninth grade students. Leading up to this unit every year I question whether I will be able to capture the interest of my students with the story. This novel is being categorized in the Classic Science Fiction genre these days which tends not to be the kind of stories students pick to read on their own. Not because they don’t enjoy it, but because it seems intimidating to them. Throw the word “Classic” in front of any title and you’ve lost many of my regular education students.

Each year upon the completion of the book, however, I am overwhelmed by the number of students who ask about recommendations of other books by Bradbury. Somewhere in the journey of complicated themes, verbose vocabulary, and metaphorical language the students begin to fall in love.

I do not have these fears prior to reading because I don’t think the students will be able to read his books, but I think I fear that they may shut down before Bradbury has a chance to WOW them with his art. I enjoy reading the many works of Bradbury for several reasons. Below are five reasons to grab a Ray Bradbury novel, screenplay, short story, or essay and allow yourself to fall in love as well.

  1. Ray Bradbury is timeless. Although most of his works were done in the early 1950s-mid 1970s the stories are still relevant to popular culture today. Nuclear war, extraterrestrial life, and time travel are all common ideas in his writing. Today, if you flip through the channels of prime-time television or Netflix you will find an abundance of shows on similar topics. Bradbury nailed popular culture fifty years ago. Throughout the reading of Fahrenheit 451 I had to continually remind the students that the book was written in 1953 long before Bluetooth, automatic cars, and cell phones. It’s actually quite surreal how well Bradbury predicted technologies of the future.
  2. Ray Bradbury is honest. I’ve read countless articles about how Bradbury was inspired to write based on his own fears. Growing up during the height of the Cold War caused Bradbury to voice some of his own fears and observations in the major themes of his books.
  3. Ray Bradbury challenges the norms of society. Along the same lines of honesty, Bradbury looked at society through a critical lens and made predictions and assumptions about the direction it was headed. He exposed the dangers of censorship and blindly following the rules of society. He aimed at provoking individuality and questioning of the world. “She didn’t want to know how a thing was done, but why.” (Fahrenheit 451)
  4. Ray Bradbury causes us to say “what if…?” As I stated above Ray Bradbury was writing during the height of the Cold War. Living in this time period caused many people to ask the question, “what if…?” of the future for mankind. Today we are faced with similar questions for our world. What if nuclear war were to break out? What if there really is water and possibility of life on Mars? What if we don’t stand up for our rights? What if the government has too much control? What if technology takes over our lives? Bradbury challenges his readers to be critical of the world around them and to dare to dream about how to solve the problems that we face in our age.
  5. Ray Bradbury uses beautiful language filled with metaphors and figurative language. One thing I love about re-reading several works of Bradbury’s each year is that every time I read his writing something new stands out to me. Most recently I loved the way that at the end of Fahrenheit 451 that Bradbury compares society to a phoenix, a mythical creature which burns itself up only to rebirth itself from the ashes. As Montag stands outside of Chicago and watches it go up in flames, Granger, his new mentor, explains that the city is like a phoenix. It may be destroyed, but it was their duty to return to the city and help it to rebuild spreading the knowledge from the books that they possessed and had become.


photo credit: http://www.openculture.com/2014/05/ray-bradbury-on-zen-and-the-art-of-writing-1973.html

Navy Blue Notebook

Welcome to my very own Creative Writing Month where each day of the month I am focusing on a topic and spending fifteen minutes reflecting and writing as inspired by the topic. For more information about why and how check out my post, Writing Down the Bones.

Today’s topic: Pick a color. Take a walk and notice all the things that color and write about it.


The color navy blue has captured my attention lately. The halls in the school where I teach are lined with navy lockers. Floors of navy and gold tiles line the pathways from each classroom down never ending corridors. My wardrobe today is reflecting my adoration for the color as my camisole and trousers match the array. Students pass me as I journey the campus all adorned in their navy and gold regalia.  But of all things navy blue in my close quarters today I must discourse about my notebook.

My notebook. My lifeblood. Where my thoughts go to live.

It is rare to find me in a place without this notebook. A phone with a notebook app will never quench my insatiable desire to put pen to paper and really bleed onto a page.

My notebook contains thoughts, prayers, quotes, stories, and ideas for my writing.

When given the luxury of a few moments alone I turn to the navy blue, leather-bound, spiral vault of ideas. This small book embodies the restlessness of my mind. To an outsider this book may seem like a jumbled mess, but to me it is my life. The things I ponder and those I cherish are all contained herein.

So although my eye was met today with a variety of navy blue objects I am drawn most of all to the smallest of those objects which I store in my large navy and green purse: my Writer’s Notebook.

*If you choose to write on the same creative topic/prompt as the one above please link your writing in a comment below! Happy Creative Writing month 🙂 

A History Teacher’s Top 4 Techniques

Recently, in a discussion with a teaching colleague, the question came up, “How do you make history class interesting?” To me, the history nerd, it seemed like a silly question. As a student I was interested in almost everything I did or learned in history class, however, as a teacher I am learning that not all students value history in the same way that I did.

In response to my colleague’s questions I have decided to compile a list of some of my favorite techniques in teaching history. I must say that one way I keep my class interesting is that I never use the same technique more than once in a week. I have a large array of class activities and I try to make sure that the students are engaged in classroom activity and discussion everyday. I am a ninth grade Honors World History teacher and engaging students can become quite a struggle with that age level. From my long list of teaching techniques here are my top four history techniques and activities:

  1. Political Cartoons: Political cartoons are one way to measure student understanding in an out-of-the-box thinking activity. I present the cartoon at the beginning of the class period for bell-work. The cartoon is projected on the Smartboard and students have to explain what they see and the historical significance in one paragraph. This paragraph has to include answers to Who? What? When? Where? Why? as they apply to the cartoon. I also like to use cartoons to connect ideas. I use a cartoon that touches on some of the ideas from the previous class period, but which also presents a bigger picture that causes the students to draw some of their own conclusions.                               18th century --- A satirical criticism of the crushing burden imposed by the nobility and the clergy on the Tiers Etat (Third Estate), the third of the three orders of society in the Ancien Regime. --- Image by © The Gallery Collection/Corbis

2. History Notebooks: The first week of school I take one day to teach students how to organize their History Notebook for the year. Students purchase a 100 page spiral notebook. We number each page front and back. Then, we divide the notebook into sections and label them: Vocabulary, Notes, Reflections, Projects. We cut post-it notes in half to create tabs for each of the sections.

IMG_1839 IMG_1840 IMG_1841

In the Vocabulary section students list the terms and definitions from each section we cover in class. In the Notes section students take notes during lectures and readings. In the Reflections section students answer questions based on the information they have learned and apply those ideas to life or other ideas. In the Projects section students record topics for Current Event projects, draft essays, and complete some of the planning necessary throughout the year for various projects.

3. Jigsaw Learning: Whenever it becomes necessary to read a large portion of text or a chapter from a textbook what I like to do is section the reading off into smaller portions and assign each small group a portion. Each group is to take notes and become the experts on the content they read in order to present that information to the rest of the class.

We present that information in one of two ways. The first presentation method is having each group present their section to the entire class. The second presentation method is to assign new groups that contains one member from each of the originals so that every portion of the entire reading is represented in each group. Within their new groups, each member teaches the rest of the group about the information that they read in their assigned reading. This method may seem a little confusing, but it is a lifesaver and the students are far less likely to grumble if you shorten their assigned reading from a whole chapter to two to three paragraphs.

4. Visual Timelines: This teaching strategy can be used to either introduce a new unit or to review one that has been completed. In this method, I take ten important events from that unit and type them out and glue them onto colored paper. I ask for ten volunteers to hold up each of the events in the front of the classroom. Students have three minutes to try to sort the events in order on their own paper. Then, as a class we go over the events and ensure that everyone was able to put the events in order.

An example of a unit where I have used this strategy is the French Revolution. After we studied the revolution students reviewed the unit by organizing the events into order.


I’m always looking for new and innovative strategies for teaching so if you would like to offer some new ideas feel free to do so in comments. I hope that these four ideas help to provide a glimpse into how I make history class interesting and defeat the monotony that can so easily creep into my lesson plans.

Honorable Debate

IMG_1462 (1)

It’s been some time since I’ve written about what is going on in Mrs. Sisley’s classroom. So in case you were wondering the year is off to a great start and I’m excited to share a little bit. Currently, I am teaching six classes. In the mornings I have three English 9 classes one of which is an Inclusion class. During the afternoons I teach three Honors World History classes. This is the first school year that an Honors History course has been offered since I’ve been working in my district and I’m thrilled to get the privilege of teaching this course.

The first few weeks have been spent getting their feet wet and providing opportunities for my students to discover my expectations. In English so far we’ve written one essay, read two short stories, and each student has now completed two of their Nine in 9th Independent Reading books. Next week we will be presenting book #2. (For more information on my Nine in 9th reading program check out my post Nine in 9th)

In history we have familiarized ourselves with GoogleDocs and the submission process through several assignments. They have completed the first of nine Current Event projects, written an article about the construction of the Palace of Versailles and taken their first test over the Age of Absolutism. I’ve been really pleased with my honors students and their drive to meet the high expectations that I have set for them. I’ve asked for quite a lot to be done in the first month of school, but for the most part they have risen to the challenge.

This week I am braving new territory and assigning my first ever debate in my Honors World History classes. We are currently learning about the Enlightenment and the impact that this time period and its thinkers have had on our world. I have chosen to center a debate around the ideas that we are learning in class. I’ve also researched many different debate methods and have chosen to use a Team Policy Debate format since this is their first formal debate.

The students will be assigned to a partner and position. Their goal will be to argue for or against a specific idea that came out of the Enlightenment. I have modified the time restraints for the Team Policy Debate for this first debate to last only twenty-four minutes (essentially halving the time allotted for each segment.) I’m a little nervous that debates could become chaotic, but sticking to a format should help with keeping things professional and moving at a quick pace. I’m also allowing the students to use pre-made note cards to direct their points in order to promote research and use of data to inform dialogue as opposed to feelings and thoughts of the students alone.

The purpose of this activity is to give the students an opportunity to perform research and put into the practice the principles that we are learning about in this unit. I have three classes of highly intelligent and opinionated people that make me eager to try this activity.

If you are a teacher and have used debates in your classroom I’d love to hear from you! What went well? What was a challenge? And any other advice you may have.

I love my job, my students, and my calling!